Monday, November 9, 2009

How to Be a Successful Learner

In Training like Champions from Angela Maiers Educational Services by Angela Maiers, she asks some great reflective questions that I thought was important to think about. I think by answering these questions, it would help me be a better teacher and a better learner. Since learning is a lifelong process, I always need to think about how to learn better.

“What is the most important thing you do to grow yourself as a learner?” I do a lot of research about the topic that I want to learn. Sometimes I want to just jump in and impulsively start something but I am still learning to stop myself, step back, and look into this with more details. After doing my research, I may change my mind about how much I really want to learn this skill or do whatever I had planned to do. This research may shed light on aspects that I hadn’t thought about before which might be vital to the success of this endeavor.

“What do successful learners do that make them successful?” I think successful learners keep their eye on the ultimate goal and not get sidetracked. I remember how much I wanted to be a teacher and that was my goal since I was a young child. Even though I was told that I couldn’t afford the private out of state university I wanted to attend, I didn’t let it discourage me. I knew I needed scholarships and the only way to earn any was to study hard and get the highest grades I could. When I still needed more money than I actually had, I applied for loans. I went so far as to declare myself independent from my parents so that the bank would loan me more money. I kept my eye on the goal and actually attended the university that I wanted because I knew it was the best place for me to go. During college, many of my friends attended lots of parties and did a lot of socializing but I didn’t because I needed to study and keep my grades up so I didn’t lose my scholarships. I even worked during all four years of college to help pay the costs. I truly believe the saying “where there is a will, there is a way.”
“What do successful learners do to maximize their efficiency?” It is important to identify all of the steps needed to achieve the final goal. This makes it easier to see your accomplishments and keeps you from getting discouraged. Once all of the steps are listed, it is important to prioritize them in order for it to be effective. It helps keep the excitement in your heart as you get nearer to your goal.

“What hinders your success as a learner?” Discouragement and fear of failure is the biggest obstacle I face. Many times other people will say I’m doing the impossible which is like an infection in my brain and makes me start believing them. When I do not achieve one of the small steps getting to my goal, it makes me feel discouraged and then I want to give up.

“What do you do to get over that obstacle?” I remind myself of the ultimate goal and decide how much I want to achieve it. Then I look at my list again and make sure that I don’t have to adjust it in some way for me to be more successful. This might mean changing priorities or even adding more steps.

“What do successful learners do when they are not motivated?” When I’m not motivated, I listen to those people who have achieved the same goal and are talking about it. I get this from reading other people’s blogs, talking to them online, listening to podcasts they have made, or reading books they have written.

“What do successful learners do when they do not know the subject well?” Lots and lots of research. The more you know about the subject, the more it will make sense. Sometimes I will find out vital information that I did not know was important in order to achieve success.

“How does your attitude affect you as a learner?” Believing that I can achieve anything I want to is important. It is all up to me. If I need help, then it is important that I take whatever steps are necessary to find the help I need. But no matter what, I need to believe in myself or it isn’t worth trying.
“What do you attribute for your learning success?” Having been successful in things I have tried in the past, it is a foundation for me to keep trying new things. That is why I feel it is so important for teachers to find things that students can do successfully and encourage students to do them. This will help them believe in themselves and make them more willing to learn more things. This success will give them a building block to keep moving upward. If I hadn’t been successful in anything, I’m not sure I would keep trying because I wouldn’t believe in myself.

I challenge you to answer these questions and share with others (Thanks Angela for making me think!). If you do, please let me know here and give me a link to your page with the answers.

Original image: 'Violin lessons' by: Nadia Blagorodnova